Gen Y: Are they spoiling the relations in Public Relations?

A few of our journo friends have remarked to us that they’ve encountered some young, brash and bossy junior PR or marketing execs belonging to the Gen Y demographic who seem to have forgotten their manners. Their story usually goes like this: these young marketing or PR people do their regular thing by sending their press releases to the journos. When they started contacting the journos to follow up on their releases, that’s when they start to show their true colours.

They either followed up with a short, impersonal and no pleasantries email asking when their story would be published, or by making frequent phone calls to the journos with the aggresiveness of a call centre team leader micro-managing his or her telesales crew.

Well, some would argue that these young marketing and PR people are just doing their job with a “youthful exuberance” reflective of their generation. But here’s the thing. The journos don’t owe these junior marketing and PR people anything, unless there was prior arrangement made where the marketing and PR people paid advertising money in exchange for editorial coverage. But apart from this scenario, it’s always at the discretion of the journos if the press releases get published and become free publicity.

So why are these journos subjected to such kinds of exchanges? What’s gone wrong that these young, Gen Y marketing and PR execs can behave like brats and as a result, give their industry and themselves bad PR?

Poor mentoring

Similar to the rhetoric that parents are to blame when their kids go astray, the managers of these juniors have to take responsibility for the behaviors of their subordinates. Not to discredit the work of marketing and PR managers, but while they go about pacifying other stakeholders, buried under forecasts and being stuck in long meetings or airport lounges (if travel is part of their job), they risk sacrificing the time that their junior staff needs to be mentored into suitable successors.

It is perfectly fine for these managers to expect their junior staff to be competent and work independently, but for them to forget their role as mentor is liken to being the negligent parent. So is it any surprise that they go about behaving like brats? 

They like it short and sweet

The junior execs, brought up on a diet of mobile phone texting, short tweets and social networking, are all about instant communication, which encourages instant gratification. Maybe their short emails and phone calls aren’t meant to be curt or pushy, but isn’t communication and public relations about conveying and constructing a suitable message for the right audience?

Yes, it’s true that Gen Y cannot be blamed for the way that they have learned to communicate in our digital age, but for them to think that the language they use with friends is appropriate at work and for dealing with the media, they’re steering their careers towards a short but far from sweet ending.

They think they’ve earned it

Another reason why they behave more like the CEO than the clerk is that maybe they truly believe their marketing degree is enough to set them up for their career. How many times have you heard a new junior marketing or PR exec refer to the course and university that they’ve graduated from, like it was the only good thing they’ve done so far? The sooner they learn to stop talking about uni (in an industry where everyone is at least a degree holder), the less embarrassing it is for them. Because no one is really interested in what they’ve done at uni, but what they’ve done and contributed to since leaving uni.

They may be the person who is “Most likely to succeed” in life at uni, but to be attached any more to their uni degree is really sad (like the friend you may know who still goes about bragging about the number of friends he or she has got on FaceBook).

Thankfully for us at Ideas Dispenser, we’ve only come across some really bright, smart and inspiring Gen Y people, the kind we’re just dying to work with. Nevertheless, the stories from our journo friends about these marketing and PR brats are mildly entertaining, like observing some Gossip Girl antics from a distance.

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4 Comments

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  1. I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

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  2. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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    • ideasdispenser June 2, 2010 — 5:49 am

      Thank you everyone for the kind words of encouragement. Although this post is about the state of PR today, it also raises some issues about management of human resources too, an area where we cannot make any elaborate comments apart from our own opinions as we’re not the experts. It will be interesting if we can receive feedback from people in HR on the subject too, if the examples we quoted are isolated cases, or are more widespread than we think.

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  3. Great work keep it coming, best blog on earth

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